Mar. 6, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Just past the halfway point of the 2014 dual match season, Northwestern continues its busy tennis schedule with three matches this weekend. The ‘Cats head to No. 54 Purdue for a 1 p.m. match on Friday, and return to host a Sunday doubleheader at home. They face No. 57 Indiana at noon, and will cap the weekend with a non-conference contest against UIC at 7:30 p.m.
Northwestern slid one spot in the ITA rankings to No. 24 this week, after dropping two tough matches to No. 38 Louisville and No. 7 Illinois last weekend. With no new singles or doubles lists, the ranked Wildcat players remain the same: No. 44 Raleigh Smith and No. 85 Sam Shropshire in singles, and No. 21 Smith and Mihir Kumar in doubles.
Purdue stayed at No. 54 this week and boasts a 6-1 record so far this season. Currently on a five-match winning streak, the Boilermakers are in the middle of a slate of Illinois teams. They swept Bradley last weekend 7-0 and beat DePaul 5-2 on Wednesday. The ‘Cats come to town on Friday, and then they travel to Illinois on Sunday. Northwestern is Purdue’s first Big Ten opponent of the season.
NU owns a 64-20 all-time advantage over Purdue, and won both of their most recent meetings by a 5-2 margin. The ‘Cats already met at least one Boilermaker in the fall, when sophomore Fedor Baev defeated Diego Acosta at the Big Ten Singles Championships in October.
The Hoosiers check in at No. 57 this week, four spots above their previous station. They are 8-7 on the season with a recent 7-0 win over Illinois State. Sophomore Sam Monette is Indiana’s only ranked singles player, coming in at No. 53.
Over the years, Northwestern and IU have been pretty competitive – the ‘Cats hold a slight 42-40 edge overall. The teams have split their last two meetings with a Wildcat victory in 2013 and a Hoosier win in 2012. This year, the ‘Cats clashed with Indiana in the Big Ten Singles Championship, where freshman Strong Kirchheimer fell in a tough three-set match to Dimitrije Tasic in the semifinals.
UIC is 3-4 on the season and won its third consecutive match a week ago. The Flames and ‘Cats have met on an annual basis for the past several years, a traditional meeting that Northwestern has yet to lose. Like the Wildcats, UIC defeated Western Illinois earlier this season.
This is the final weekend of play before a nearly three week rest period for final exams and spring break vacation. The ‘Cats return with more Big Ten action against Ohio State and Penn State at the end of the month.
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